Australian Home Journal: Part One

I used to make my own clothes waaay back in the eighties and nineties, but for some reason I stopped. I think I was just much more focused on the result rather than the process and eventually grew tired of it. I've recently revisited my sewing machine and I'm loving it! This time, I'm much more engaged in the whole process and and I'm finding it really rewarding; not to mention all of my past sewing projects were pre-internet so I'm now discovering for the first time all the fabulous resources that are out there - so many great blogs, fabric shops and downloadable patterns - yaaay!

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All of this sewing buzz prompted me to pull out my stash of vintage Australian Home Journal magazines. Some of them still have the dress patterns inside, but I'm more interested in looking at the beautiful covers for now. My collection spans thirty years from the early-30s to the early-60s, so I thought I'd dedicate a few posts to sharing this beautiful cover art with you. Here are the first seven that I've selected, spanning 1932-38; just look at all of those gorgeous dresses! As a bonus, here's a sassy lassy in a sporty tennis pullover from 1932...

Vintage Scrap Album

Look what I found at a recent secondhand book sale!

Finders Keepers

I've just finished working on a poster & postcard design for The Finders Keepers' Melbourne Art & Design Market being held in April. As sometimes happens, the direction I initially took was shelved, in this case it was in favour of a collage-based design. I'm rather fond of my first attempt. As I was working on it, I realised that it reminded me of the spine & endpapers of a Little Golden Book, which inspired me to write a post about them a few weeks ago. In other news, I'd like to thank all the lovely people who've been emailing me via my new contact page lately. Firstly, thank you for helping me test the contact form, but also, thank you so much for writing such nice emails - they've been so encouraging & inspiring!

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One more thing before I go... I'm working on a new project called 2by4 to get the creative juices flowing. Every day (or maybe most days - no pressure!) I'm going to make at least one little image on paper measuring 2x4 inches. I want to be totally free in terms of the kind of paper I use, as well as the subject matter, media, style & technique. Sometimes it can be rather daunting to start work on a big blank page or wood panel or canvas, but a little 2x4" snippet is a much friendlier prospect. Then, when I have a whole stack of them, I'll make collages from them - it should be fun! I'll make sure to post some of my little 2by4 piccies on my blog as I go along.

Top: Poster design. Bottom Left: Postcard design. Bottom right: First version of poster.

From the Archives: Mirror Writing

Thank you to the people who've entered my Haiku contest so far - so many beautiful poems! There's still time to enter if you're interested. I thought you might like to see this fabulous example of mirror writing on a postcard I have from 1908. People used to find ingenious ways to make their correspondence difficult for the postman to take a peek at, including writing backwards, upside down, & even leaving secret messages beneath the stamp. Bottom left is the right way around version, & the mirror image on the right. How amazingly clever Minnie was to master the art of writing backwards in cursive!

My Vintage Postcard Collection #1

I have a big collection of Victorian & Edwardian postcards, mainly collected in the '80s when they were cheap & plentiful. They're so pretty! I keep them in vintage postcard albums & nice boxes & take them out of the cupboard every so often to play with. Many of them are from this fabulous secondhand book shop called Edmonds (now sadly closed) where we'd spend wintery Sunday afternoons rummaging & foraging & coaxing out treasures. It was dark & cluttered & smelled like dust & musty old paper & gas from the fire & tobacco. I loved that place...

I Haven't Been Swindling Your Paper - Honest!

EDIT: The Paper Chase Project has now closed.

Can you believe it? It was in July that I started the Paper Chase! Some of you may have been wondering if I was ever going to make & send the promised collages, or that maybe I'd skipped town with all that paper. Well, fear not, I'm still here & I'm busily collaging.

I've received 36 packages of paper so far, & although I'm still more than happy to accept people's parcels, I just want to let you all know that it might take me a while before I can post back the collages - I've had a much bigger response than I expected.

Thanks to everyone who's participated so far - I hope you can be patient with me! Hopefully I'll finish updating everything this afternoon.

Here are the first six collages (and the finished stamp that I put on the back of each collage) - I hope the recipients like them! I'll be popping them in the post on Thursday!

I made Collage No.1 for artist Rosa Murillo. I love Rosa's work & I hope she likes my little collage! The square of paper with the masked woman stamped on it is from a legal document from the 1880s that Rosa sent. The paper has a beautiful crinkly texture that I didn't want to lose by gluing it down, so I cut a little window in the backing card. When you hold it up to the light, that section is kind of luminous - it reminds me of a watermark on a dollar bill.

Collage No.2 was made for Smoobage who sent a big pile of amazing vintage 7" record sleeves. I really love the muted, drab colours.

Caroline of Peaseblossom Studio sent me some beautifully aged pages from a French dictionary. Collage No.3 reminds me of an 18th century entomological expedition to an exotic island somewhere.

Collage No.4 was made for High Desert Diva who sent me a lovely collection of vintage stamps & labels & things. I made a green & purple collage for her!

Moving on to Collage No. 5...Mandy sent me a really nice letter with her parcel of paper. She thinks the lining of envelopes are really beautiful (I agree with her!) & sent a little collection to me - I wanted to make her a collage that somehow incorporated their intricate patterns. I think this collage has something to do with the migratory habits of a big brown moth - he flies to Dublin each summer to stay with relatives apparently.

Lastly, one that I just finished this morning - Collage No.6 that now belongs to Joanne, aka Shaving Kit, who sent me a really colourful collection of paper. I wanted to give her collage a storybook feel...

So that's it for now! I may not be able to get started on the next batch of collages for a week or so, since I'm finishing up on some gocco prints that I need to post off to the UK for an exhibition, but I'll keep you posted on any further Paper Chase developments!

Quick! Where are My Scissors & Glue?!

EDIT: The Paper Chase has now closed.

Trips to the post office are not normally this thrilling... The response to the Paper Chase has been huge - 19 parcels of paper so far, & more to come. Hooray! Here's what I picked up this morning...it was like Christmas Day opening them all!

I'm obviously going to be very busy making collages for all the participants, so I'd like to ask people to be a little patient.

I'm devoting my evenings & some of my weekends to the Paper Chase so I can post back everyone's collages as soon as possible!

I'm just amazed & really really moved by how great you all are! I hope I can do this project justice by making collages everyone's happy with! Thank you!

Still Chasing Paper...

EDIT: The Paper Chase project has now closed.

I am absolutely floored by the response I've had to The Paper Chase. I've already received 6 packages - 5 of them arriving super-fast from the US.

This project means so much to me, not just because I love paper (& I do love paper!), but because it's enabling me to make contact with so many amazing artists & art-lovers, & I'm just so touched by people's generosity & kindness. This is going to sound ultra-corny, but I really feel connected in the warmest, fuzziest way through this exchange - this is what art's all about. A big thank you to everyone participating in The Paper Chase!

As you can see, I've posted tantalising shots of the packages I've received so far. I've made an extra-special photo gallery just for The Paper Chase where I'm uploading pics of the bundles as they arrive, as well as the finished collages I make to send back.

These parcels of paper pleasure were sent by Mandy in NSW, Peaseblossom Studio, Smoobage, High Desert Diva, Rosa Murillo & Shaving Kit. Thank you!

Who Knew Paper Could Be This Exciting?

Well, actually, I knew...& I'm not the only one out there with a serious paper fetish. I've kind of lost count, but we're up to over 50 participants in The Paper Chase now (from 7 different countries), with over 10 people already having shipped their packages. I'm excited! Melissa from Crab Apple Designs kindly emailed me a photo of the wonderful package she's sending, so now of course, I'm extra excited! Thanks Melissa, I can't wait to receive your amazing parcel of paper joy - I hope I can do it justice & make you a collage you'll be happy with!

Paper Chase Continued...

EDIT: The Paper Chase Project has now closed.Wow!!! The Paper Chase Project has exceeded my wildest expectations - not that I actually had any expectations really, it was kind of a spur of the moment thing.

So far, I have 44 people (from 5 different countries) who've expressed an interest in participating, & 8 people I know of have already posted their packages off! That's potentially a lot of collages I'm going to be making, but please don't be discouraged by that if you were thinking of taking part - I'm expecting the arrival of the packages will be spread out over a manageable time period, & I'm up for the challenge! I'm really amazed by how many people are eager to join in, & how incredibly kind & generous they've been. This is shaping up to be a lot of fun!

If you'd like to participate in the Paper Chase, you can find out all about it from my previous post, where I've given all the details, my postal address, etc. I'm asking people to enclose with the packages their online details (along with their return address of course), as I intend to post regular updates on my blog & link to everyone who takes part. There'll be photos of the packages as they arrive & I'm also posting pics of the finished collages. Yay!

A big thanks to mega-talented artist Gemma Jones for mentioning the Paper Chase on her blog, & hi to all my blog visitors from Argentina who've found me via Diseño Club, who've made me the Feature Link of the Week!

More Bits of Dusty Ol' Paper

Look at all the paper goodies my friend Mark bought back from a secondhand market for me! I can't wait to draw & paint on it & snip it all up & make collages. Is it weird to get so excited about bits of old paper? In other news...my Heart Attack greeting card appeared in a Treasury on Etsy's front page the other day. Thanks to The Letter V for featuring me!

I've been busy working on a new painting, as well as making some collages for my Etsy shop, & also printing packaging for buttons, magnets & keyrings, so I'll have some new things for sale soon & some special goodies for my next giveaway. Don't forget, to be eligible for the  monthly giveaways, you need to be a subscriber to my mailing list!

I'm also extremely excited about a Gocco exhibition that I'll be taking part in later this year.  Stay tuned for more details!

And the Winner Is...

Lastly, the winner of my little collage giveaway is Kelly Rinehart of Purple Lemon Designs. Her prize is in the post & making its way to her letterbox!

My Passionate Love Affair...

...with paper continues... I've just given myself blisters from cutting hundreds of little paper shapes for a new collage I'm making. Someone needs to invent scissors with fur-lined handles.  Fake fur of course. After cutting (what seemed like) the 40 billionth shape, I started fantasising about buying a digital die-cutter, but for this project at least, part of the fun is in hand-cutting the paper. I really do love paper & ink...I hope my passion for them shows in what I do. The finished collages, which are bases for paintings & prints, are just so tactile & lovely. The blisters are (almost) worth it!

Notice anything different? Take a look at the top of my left sidebar...pretty spiffy, eh? Turns out Julian Lievano (of Heart-o-Matic fame) is not only the Evil Knievel of glass blowing, but the Steve McQueen of coding too. He made this nifty little gallery widget especially for my blog. Thanks Julian, I love it! :)

Anyway, toodle-loo for now! :)